Claim to Fame: Professional hockey player and coach
Curt Fraser is a Canadian-American former ice hockey player and coach of the Detroit Red Wing’s farm team, the Grand Rapids Griffins. Frasier was born in Cincinnati, Ohio, where his father played hockey for the Cincinnati Mohawks, a minor league team in the International Hockey League.
Fraser grew up in Winnipeg and Vancouver, Canada, where he played junior hockey for the Victoria Cougars, setting a number of records in scoring, assists, and points. In 1978, he was drafted to the Vancouver Canucks where he stood out as a significant player and capable leader, becoming one of the team’s top offensive players.
In 1982, the National Hockey League’s Chicago Black Hawks picked up Frasier. While on the team, he flourished, scoring 29 goals over the season and having 39 assists to his name. He went on to have three 20-goal seasons with the Hawks, but was eventually traded to Minnesota.
In 1983, Frasier was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes after playing hockey for close to six years. Coaches, medics, and doctors noticed Fraser’s mood and behavior would fluctuate over the course of the practice and, after follow-up tests and doctor visits, it was confirmed that the young player had been struggling with diabetes without knowing.
Fraser quickly learned to manage his illness and kept playing with the same aggressive, intent passion. In 1990, Fraser gave up his skates and left the ice, citing back problems as his impetus to retire. However, Fraser did not stay away long, returning with a desire to coach. In 1999, he became coach of the Atlanta Thrashers. In 2003, Fraser worked as assistant coach for the New York Islanders and the St. Louis Blues. As of 2008, Frasier has served as head coach of the Grand Rapid Griffins.
Frasier is active in the diabetes community, wishing to speak to young athletes with diabetes about the trials and tribulations, as well as the rewards. In a 2008 interview with MLive.com, Fraser stated, “It’s not a good thing, but certainly it can be dealt with. With all of the technology and resources that are out there, you can live a healthy life for a long time.” Fraser continues to inspire people through his story and education about diabetes. He aims to break the stereotype that people with diabetes are too unhealthy or unfit to overcome their illness and achieve greatness.